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Franchising: the future

What is happening now?

Transport Focus is engaged in influencing all the live franchising competitions and direct awards. Details of our activity are given on the individual franchise pages. We also provide regular updates through our Transport User Voice newsletter for passengers, stakeholders and user groups.

A summary of key dates for the Department for Transport (DfT) franchise replacement programme and related documents are available on its rail franchising publications page. The DfT has established a new organisational and project management structure and the Passenger Services Directorate is now responsible for passenger rail franchises.

Transport Focus’ role

Influencing the specification and content of new contracts represents a major opportunity to secure benefits for passengers. Consequently, franchising is a key theme in our work plan.

Our input into franchising makes extensive use of the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) and draws on other research. Where possible we commission specific research to explore passengers’ views of their current experience and aspirations for each franchise. In 2014 we carried out research to identify rail passengers’ priorities for improvements across the country and are also using this information in our franchising discussions.

We work closely with the DfT and devolved bodies in the early stages of developing a new franchise specification and generally provide an initial written submission for each franchise and for proposed direct awards. We encourage passenger feedback in the consultation process and publish our own response to the consultation. We continue to liaise and discuss passenger aspirations and priorities with prospective bidders and newly appointed franchisees to encourage passenger focused policies. We have also provided advice on bidders’ proposals for the customer experience elements to the evaluators of recent franchises.

Following the contract award we continue to liaise with the franchisee to hold them to account for continued improvement in delivery of service using NRPS and data from the complaint appeals that are referred to us. We also comment on their Passenger’s Charter, Complaints Handling Procedure and Disabled People’s Protection Policy.

Back to Franchising – the future of your railway 

To view our National Rail Passenger Survey reports or to access these and our appeal complaints data through our Open Data tool, please click on the links below:



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